All posts in wine

  • frasca – boulder, colorado

    I had dinner at Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder this past Thursday.  Before I get started, I would like to say that the restaurant is without a doubt the best gastronomic experience in the state of Colorado.  There isn’t a restaurant in the state that functions better or has a better menu.  Everything from the the arrival experience down to the final taste of dessert were nothing short of spectacular.

    The Four Course tasting menu began for us with a Salumi plate that included prosciutto from Friuli, Italy; Speck; and cacciatore.  The cured meats were as fresh as you’d expect and simply melted in your mouth.  I haven’t had cured meats so fresh since I was last in Barcelona in August and shopped at the local neighborhood market (or maybe when I was on Rue Mouffetard in Paris).

    My antipasti course was Uovo.  This consists of house made guanciale, a slow cooked egg, potato and pain au Lait Crouton.  This dish was elegantly prepared and the egg and potato combination worked quite well.  The cured meat also gave it that “bacon and egg” taste, which of course is heavenly.

    The next course was Gargati house made pasta (the house made pasta at Frasca is just the tastiest) with Foire Gras and Vin Santo.  The Foire was used within the sauce (almost as a Foire butter), which simply didn’t overpower the dish.  The flavor combination was simple, yet decedent and set us up nicely for the main course.

    My main course was diver scallops, lettuce, salsify, and blood orange.  The scallops were very tasty, but what I thought made the dish was the blood orange.  The flavor complex worked amazingly well (especially paired with Bobby Stuckey’s Scarpetta Pinot Grigio from Friuli, Italy).

    Dinner concluded with pan di zenzero (dessert), which was homemade gingerbread cake, zabaglione, strawberry, and custard gelato.  This was sweet, but not overly and again was a masterpiece.

    Wine through the night was Bobby Stuckey’s (Master Sommelier) Scarpetta Pinot Grigio which is lovely.  Friuli, Italy creates the best white wines in the world and Scarpetta is simply lovely.

    Frasca is a New York or San Francisco experience that you can find on Pearl Street in Boulder.  Unquestionably the best dining experience in Colorado and masterful in so many ways.

    [sorry, I wish I had photos of the courses as I usually do, but I devoured everything too quickly]

  • thanksgiving wine pairings

    A wine post – finally!  For Thanksgiving a classic pairing with Turkey is Pinot Noir.  It is delicious with turkey, but it is Thanksgiving and you should have at least two or three wine pairings.  Stay away from Cabernet because the tannins will make your turkey taste extremely dry.

    For Thanksgiving dinner here are the wines I am going to pair the meal with: 

    Start: a lovely Scarpetta Friulano from Fruili.  It isn’t a classic pairing by any stretch, but it is delicious.  There is a little bit of tannins (especially for white wine), so we will want to be sure to drink it before any turkey is brought out.

    Second: a Frank Family Vineyards 2011 Chardonnay.  Aromas of apricot, apple and pineapple, laced with notes of nutmeg, cinnamon and hazelnut.  Perfect second wine leading into Thanksgiving dinner.

    Third (main):  2008 Fort Ross “Fort Ross Vineyard” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.  It is an extremly exposed area of the Sonoma coast, and Fort Ross harvest’s grapes that are perfectly ripe.  The wine is plush and velevty, bursting with complex berry, rhubarb, savory herb, and pie spice aromas and flavors.  It will be perfect for turkey and trimmings.

    Last (final): 2011 Lieu Dit Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Franc.  This will put up a fight to many brilliant French wines.  It is bright and herbaceuos in a great way with balanced acid.  Just a beautiful wine.

    Wishing everyone a delightful Thanksgiving and lots of good Vino!



  • zagat

    As a food and wine lover I have always read the Zagat guide books like a bible.  I love taking advice from a click of food and wine lovers around the globe that travel to dine and respect amazing cuisine.  There is something special about thumbing through the maroon red cover guidebooks with quotes such as “neighborhood jem,” “freshest fish around,” “simply irresistible tiramisu.”  Having said that, there have been a number of changes to the program since Google purchased Zagat back in 2011.  They have integrated the review system into Google +, which was an interesting choice.  As a true Zagat member, I thought it was irresponsible (possibly arrogantly) because it is devaluing the scoring system.  I am traditional in a sense that I believe Zagat ratings for restaurants can be valued entirely differently than reviews from sites such as  G+, Yelp, and Trip Advisor.  Zagat members are truly the “food community” (and maybe we are stuck up), but we are not everyone in the general public.  Again, this may sound arrogant, but if you haven’t had the opportunity to eat in a number of restaurants in different key markets, you probably don’t have a developed enough pallet to provide true Zagat reviews.

    Another quarrel that I have with Zagat is their lack of ratings outside of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, LA, etc.  I know for a fact that there would be interested foodies in the central United States (Denver for example), but the question is why don’t they join?  There isn’t a lack of awareness of Zagat (at least I don’t believe so).  If more members were to join in smaller markets, then more restaurants would be reviewed, which would give the ratings more clout in smaller markets.

    I think we are at a key crossroads that is more complex than just combining Zagat reviews with G+ reviews.  I strongly believe, and I think that I have blogged about this before, that people simply do not have the same higher expectations when it comes to luxury in general.  Whether that be hotels or restaurants, it just isn’t the same, and that is OK, because, well the times they are a changing’ (and I am too progressive to want more of the same).   I believe that if Zagat is going to remain the foremost expert on dining (since Michelin simply doesn’t have enough of a presence in the States), then they are going to have to modernize, but that doesn’t mean integrating a network of amazing reviewers providing exceptional content into common networks such as G+/Yelp/TA, etc.

    The tools also need to become more developed (why delete the Zagat app?), when it should have simply been reinvented (a better UI and better overall functionality and integration with restaurants).  The deletion of the app angred me greatly.

    To sum this up, Zagat needs to remain as a separate network of epicurean reviewers.


  • Pelago in Chicago

    It is about time for a restaurant post.  Pelago Restaurant in Chicago on Delaware street is a tremendous dining experience.  The interior of the restaurant is elegant, yet very comfortable, and the staff are very kind and aim to please.

    I was recommended to Pelago as the “best italian” in Chicago, and I believe that this statement is accurate.  The menu is specific, yet extensive, and has a number of options to please.  The wine list is also extensive, and has a number of unique and exciting options from all over Italy.

    I tried:

    Insalata di Pomodori e Mozzarella con Germogli di Basilico
    Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Mozzarella and Micro Basil

    (this salad was fabulous with wonderful buffalo mozzarella and a great olive oil drizzle).

    Sella D’ Agnello alle Erbe Aromatiche 
    Roasted Rack of Lamb with Herb Crust

    (the lamb was cooked to perfection and the herb crust complimented the lamb well and was in no way over powering).

    The food was paired with a couple of southern Italian red wines that were fabulous.

    When in Chicago I also highly recommend the Peninsula Hotel Bar, which is classic, yet has a very warm feel.  The Drumbar on the roof of the Raffaello Hotel is also awesome with great views, and craft cocktails.

    The Heirloom Tomato Salad

    Roasted Rack of Lamb with Herb Crust


  • paris


    Paris is Paris. Fabulous.

    Paris is unquestionably the most beautiful city I have ever been too. The architecture is just simply stunning and the river at night is just out of art (as it is). I am not kidding when I say that I undertand Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris and the magic that this city offers. There really isn’t anything like it.

    Last night I had the good fortune of eating at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (the original). I went for the full tasting menu where every course was better than the next. Chef even made for me Robuchon’s signature ravioli–which has been his staple for the past 30 years (pictured in the blog). Nothing about Robuchon is over-rated. He truly is the chef of the century. This coming from me, who has eaten Gagnaire, Keller, and Jean Georges, to name a few. A full ten courses and I was still craving the next. Foir, Gazpacho (and amazing Gazpacho–something I could drink as a replacement for water), ravioli, caviar, baby lamb chops, a decadent strawberry dessert and even a chocolate dessert in case you were not fully satisfied. Everything, and I mean everything was so absolutely fabulous that I was taking the exceptional bread to soak up every bit of every sauce and soup. Of course this being Paris, it was paired perfectly with wine that was beyond the senses. I will never forget the day that I had the opportunity to eat in the original L’Atlier de Joel Robuchon in Paris.

    The amazing thing about this city is that every single cafe seems like it is just better than the next. My favorite cooking is bistro, and I found the best bistro I have ever tried–called La Cantine du Troquet Dupleix. It was recommended by a chef concierge at the Mandarin as one of the best “local bistros.” So incredible, I am going again tonight, which certainly says something given the vast number of amazing restaurants this city has.

    I also visited the Rue Mouffetard open-air Market and indulged in freshly sliced salami and white wine. Everything is so fresh and it puts to shame everything we have in the States. Real pork, that tastes like pork. Cheese that tastes like cheese, fish that is unbelievable, and biggest difference, eggs that actually taste like eggs should. I mean it…no exaggeration. If you understand good food and care about it as you should, you’ll know what I am taking about (and I am not talking about eating at Keller’s French Laundry every night–which of course is incredible. I am talking about food you can buy at the grocery.)

    I also visited the Louvre, the Eifel, the Charvet shirt store (per my Grandfather’s recommandation), and I made it to Versailles for the day today. Absolutely nothing like it. More about everything later when I return, but for me…back to good food and wine for now. Oh, and I also went to the 11pm showing of Crazy Horse last night; the original Cabaret show in Paris, like Moulin Rouge (yet not so over-rated and expensive). It was great. I suppose what’s not to like about topless beautiful Parisian women with an incredible light show?

    What I love most about Paris is that at any time you can walk into a lovely cafe, enjoy great food, cheese, wine, and good company. This is something I wish dearly we had back home. It just doesn’t exist. Also, for those that think that the Parisians are rude–you are doing something wrong. They are the nicest people I have met so far on my trip. Every single person is happy to help me find my way, show me good food, and treat me kindly. The trick? Treat them right, try to speak some french, say merci bouquet, and relax, drink good wine, and enjoy cheese with them!